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Toyota Teams Up With Subaru and Mazda to Develop Eco-Friendly Engines

Toyota is taking a bold step to breathe new life into internal combustion engines (ICEs) by developing carbon-neutral fuels, positioning itself against the trend of a complete shift to electric vehicles (EVs) embraced by major automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz.

During a comprehensive three-hour “Multipathway Workshop” on Tuesday, Toyota’s President and CEO, Koji Sato, outlined the company’s ambitious strategy for achieving carbon neutrality using synthetic e-fuels, biofuels, and liquid hydrogen.

Unlike its competitors, Toyota has maintained that the auto industry can reduce greenhouse gas emissions more swiftly and efficiently by offering a variety of alternative powertrains, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids, technologies it has pioneered for years. Toyota’s multi-pathway approach involves refining ICE technologies to make them compatible with carbon-neutral fuels.

In its innovative strategy, Toyota plans to collaborate with Subaru and Mazda, encouraging the development of “signature engines” while jointly working on alternative fuels. Toyota’s signature powerplants will continue to be used in hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) featuring smaller ICEs. Subaru will focus on horizontally opposed engines, and Mazda aims to revive its iconic Wankel rotary engines.

“The three engines, which share the same aspirations in achieving carbon neutrality, will refine engine technologies through friendly competition,” Sato said. This collaborative effort underscores a unified goal among the automakers to hone ICE technologies for the electrification era and expand the possibilities for carbon neutrality.

Mazda Motors Corp. President and CEO Masahiro Moro expressed confidence in the rotary engine’s compatibility with electrification and carbon-neutral fuels. “Mazda will continue to develop the technology through co-creation and competition to ensure it can contribute broadly to society,” Moro stated.

Similarly, Subaru Corp. President and CEO Atsushi Osaki emphasized the company’s dual approach of refining electrification technology while enhancing its horizontally opposed engines to use carbon-neutral fuels eventually.

Despite Toyota’s optimism, the efficacy of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels and biofuels remains uncertain, as the workshop did not delve into the technical details of these fuels. In the early 2000s, carbon-neutral alternative fuels were a hot topic among automakers, oil companies, and startups. However, the success of Tesla and the subsequent focus on EVs shifted the industry’s focus.

Hydrogen, thanks to developments by Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, and Honda, remains part of the discussion, though its infrastructure lags behind EV recharging networks. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Climate Portal, the carbon neutrality of hydrogen depends significantly on the production process used.



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